Quebec Winter Carnival, Feb. 12, 2011. // 4. Quebec Winter Carnival (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

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Quebec Winter Carnival, Feb. 12, 2011.

Where: Quebec City
When: January-February

The only downside to, perhaps, one of the best festivals — winter or not — in the world, is its mascot, the Bonhomme Carnaval, whose frozen smile and roly-poly edges evokes for us nightmarish memories of that evil, but oh-so-huggable and pinch-his-cheeks-cute villain from "Ghostbusters." Yes, folks, we're talking the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, whose gooey centre and big smiling eyes belied sinister aims. In fact, look closer, and we swear there's a malicious glint in that Bonhomme wink of his. Regardless, no list of wild and wintry festivals would be complete without a nod to our own Quebec Winter Carnival where our fun-loving fearless French cousins balk at the negative double digit temperatures by transforming Quebec City into a winter playground for kids — and adults. Billed as the largest winter carnival in the world, activities range from outdoor hot tubs, extreme canoe races on the frozen St. Lawrence River, 122 m slides carved out of ice and "white snowy" rafting in which a dozen people squeeze into a raft and hurtle down the slopes. A recent addition to the carnival is a cold-water pool, in which revellers are challenged to show off their bravado and chest hairs by taking a refreshing dip in the pool outside.

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